I like Derek’s “user-generated content”

I was going to write a post about terms like “user-generated content” – which my boss at globeandmail.com, Angus Frame, and I had a discussion about awhile back, after he said how much he despised the term “citizen journalism” – but I don’t have to any more because Derek Powazek has a great post that says everything I was going to say, as well or better (hey, anything is possible). As he puts it:

“Can I make a suggestion? Let’s all stop using the phrase “user-generated content.” I’m serious. It’s a despicable, terrible term.” Let’s deconstruct it.

User: One who uses. Like, you know, a junkie.

Generated: Like a generator, engine. Like, you know, a robot.

Content: Something that fills a box. Like, you know, packing peanuts.”

Derek is totally right. “User-generated content” is something that a marketing ‘droid would say in a report to upper management or the accounting department, about all that stuff that someone produces somewhere that gets ads wrapped around it. It has no soul, it has no life, it has no meaning. Jeremy Zawodny has joined the fight, and so has Umair Haque of Bubblegeneration, and Jeremiah Owyang. Derek says:

“Think about the rest of the world. Writers produce stories or articles. Authors write fiction or memoir. These are words infused with meaning and romance. Can you imagine a writer saying “I am a content provider” when asked what they do?”

If you feel okay with saying you’re a “content provider,” then I hope you are writing stuff for the back of packages, or user manuals for enterprise-class printers or something like that. Why not just call it writing? Derek wants to call it “authentic media,” which is a nice try but has (ironically) a kind of fake ring to it. I’m going to continue to search for a good term – and it will be as far away from the term “user-generated content” as possible.

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